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UK Politics

Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 11:23 pm
by Ranbir
Come on fellow Brits, a lot of stuff to talk about.

Like Brown's recent speech, very interested to know your thoughts on that.

We're also feeling the fall of American corporata. Thankfully not as much and our lower national debt has got us in a slightly better position to take steps.

Does Toryboy have a chance? Can the Polls really be that scary? Our Nick Clegg doesn't even know the State Pension.

<Mod Edit(SX):Stickified>

Re: UK Politics

Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 12:17 am
by WeiWenDi
Whoops! My bad, Ranbir - you posted this just as I was working on my post about the same topic. That's alright, though - it was a fair cop. I'll just post my questions over here and ask the mods to close my other thread.

WeiWenDi wrote:I think there has been a lot of discussion concerning the upcoming American elections in the relevant thread here, but I'm currently growing interested in the British generals, which will be happening within the next two years, probably in 2009. This topic I think should be left open to any discussion of the upcoming British elections, and anything concerning Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. I do have some questions for the Brits on SoSZ, though (I know you're out there :wink: ):

A recent poll by the Angus Reed group showed that most Britons are very strongly anti-war with regard to Iraq, with about 60% having always opposed the war and about 20% more having come into their opposition to the war within the past five years. Now from what I can tell, none of your three front-runners, Brown, Cameron or Clegg, pays that much tribute to this fact: Brown still supports the war, though he has been distancing himself a little bit from Bush and, if memory serves, did support a partial troop withdrawal; Cameron still supports the war but has also supported an 'enquiry' into the Labour government's handling of intelligence, justification for and execution of the war; Clegg (rather weakly) opposes the war but supports the interventionist views that were used to justify it. So for those of you for whom the war is going to be a large issue in this upcoming election, how do you read this? Is the war an important issue, still?

I realise that I am biased, given that I am American and the war affects my country as well as yours, so it seems more important to me. But what other factors influence how you vote, and what other issues determine how you vote? There are very likely a number of issues that I just don't know enough about, even though I do read the Guardian.

Also (complete side-topic - something I've wanted to ask for years), what do you think of the fox-hunt ban? Pardon my ignorance of the class issues involved, but from an environmentalist standpoint, doesn't it seem rather silly, given that foxes are classified as a least-concern species and that they are essentially in Britain what coyotes are here?

Re: UK Politics

Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 1:32 am
by WeiWenDi
Okay, I had some mixed reactions to Brown's speech. Parts of it sounded honest, motivated and sincere in the conviction of what it means to be a socialist (in the truest sense of the word in that they put the needs of the society and of the community first). I'm glad that there's someone in the British government who isn't afraid to use words like 'fairness' (which is more or less taboo in the political discourse of this country) and say things like:

Gordon Brown wrote:And when the country is asking their government to meet these new challenges I say to our opponents: those who don't believe in the potential of government shouldn't be trusted to form one.

Gordon Brown wrote:And let me be clear about the new Labour policy on crime; taking action on the causes of crime will never mean indulging those who perpetrate it. Fairness demands that we both punish and prevent.


And justice seen is justice done - so you will be seeing more neighbourhood policing on the street, hearing more about the verdicts of the court, able to see the people who offended doing community payback which will be what it says; hard work for the public benefit at the places and times the public can see it. That's only fair to the law abiding majority.

On the other hand, I felt in places like he was still trying too hard to be a successor to Blair or at least to come off that way - which he can't, really, if he meant even a fraction of what his speech intended. Blair swung New Labour so far to the right that for awhile it was indistinguishable from the Tories, and here it looks like Brown wants to stand up to the Blairites in his own party as much as to the Tories or to the Lib Dems.

Re: UK Politics

Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 11:44 am
by English_Druid
Brown's unpopularity isn't surprising since his is the incumbent government during these rough economic times. I do not think that people will vote for the Conservatives in the numbers the pole suggests, they just find these polls and discussion forums a convenient outlet to express their anger and frustration at how they are suffering financially.

I think the issue of tax has gained in significance this year. We know that we're heavily taxed, and we're largely supportive of it if we feel that out money is being spent wisely. However, spending on public services has been boosted in previous budgets but we just don't feel like any aggregate benefit has been realised by that spending. Now people are seeing their disposable income shrinking, with no corresponding attempt to lift their tax burden. The defensibility of our high taxes has been weakened.

The Iraq War doesn't appear to be occupying a prominent position in UK politics right now. Perhaps there is a mistaken belief that 'its over' and that the troops are already set to come home. Perhaps we don't feel like blaming party leaders for their choices made over the decision to go to war. We threw out Tony Blair because of it, and now many people seem to want him back. Rather than blame our own political elite for the war, we can blame the American elite for 'dragging' us into it kicking and screaming.

Although I'm a socialist at heart, I have deep concerns about where the welfare state is headed. Millions of people abuse a noble system that’s meant to help the vulnerable and weak when they cannot help themselves. Maybe it'll do us good to see a change in Government for a term. Then we can all remember how bad the Conservative can make things and it'll give Mr Miliband lots of ammunition when he runs for PM.

Re: UK Politics

Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 4:25 pm
by Duncan
A few points:

The Iraq war is a bit of a side issue now. I think we are all fairly settled in believing what we believe about it whatever side we take, and as an issue it is therefore a dead duck. My personal take is that it was the right war at roughly the right time, but we needed to put in place a slightly stronger legal justification to start fighting, and when we won there seemed to be absolutely no plan for the peace. Our leaders should take the rap on both counts.

Cameron is lucky at the moment. He can snipe from the safety of the opposition benches at a time of grave economic turmoil and apparent unrest on Labour's back benches with virtually no threat from a toothless "Cameron-lite" Nick Clegg. The Conservatives have no agreed policies on anything much, but when they have to present a vision for the future in the run up to an election, their unity will suffer and their poll ratings will slide.

The real question is whether Brown can actually unite enough of his own party behind him to go into an election looking like a credible leader. Even so, he may never recover from the impact of the Credit Crunch - economic hardship is as much of a vote loser for governments as a disunited party, an ineffective leader and sheer boredom at seeing the same faces on TV all the time.

Tax is always an interesting one, but attitudes to it depend on your underlying political standpoint. I'd always rather pay more taxes of it meant I'd get better healthcare and education services, plus better provision for environmentally-friendly transport services and renewable energy. The British Empire was built on a high tax economy, and I've never been able to see a good reason for governments to reduce tax take overall. The balance of direct and indirect taxation, and where taxes actually fall is more significant - given the Treasury's recent screw-up over the 10p tax rate, I'm not convinced that New Labour have really thought this through.

And as for fox hunting, there is an element of class about it, but it is much more about the different perspectives of townsfolk (the vast majority of the electorate who see foxes as cuddly furry creatures) to the countryside. if you talk to country folk, you get a view based on the fox as a vicious killer of game, with a particular penchant for mass-murdering domesticated poultry. They are wild animals to be treasured, but if their numbers are not controlled they become vermin to be exterminated. A larger proportion of country folk also have access to horses (whether they own them or not). For the hunter there is no better feeling than riding through the countryside as part of a group, particularly when you have a wily and elusive objective. Stables and packs of fox hounds have been kept as an asset for generations - the ban has put specialist rural livelihoods at risk. While I understand the ban, personally I think it is political expediency aimed at a group who are unlikely to be Labour supporters in the first place, without enough acknowledgement of the impact on the tenuous economics of rural life.

Re: UK Politics

Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:25 pm
by English_Druid
I support the fox hunting ban. Although I accept that foxes constitute a pest and may need to be culled, I don't accept the argument that the culling should take the form of a chase through the woods. Not only does it appear inhumane to cull in this way, but it also seems to be an inefficient way of culling which has only a marginal impact upon the fox population. Its clearly then all about the hunt, wealthier members of society indulging in a bit of creature slaying.

There is a fox hunting post in the CA somewhere...

Re: UK Politics

Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 3:52 pm
by Ranbir
I can't buy the argument of pest control. Their potential for growth has been so severely limited with loss of their natural habitat, it's no more a risk to over population as it is with wild rabbits and hedgehogs. Anyone seen a hog lately? I used to see tonnes in the 90s, admittedly more as road kill than roaming my garden.

I liked Brown's speech and I like him. He really does seem to give me the impression he's one of those rare politicians that actually wants to do things. I strongly feel most of his 'pandering' as his critics have said have been at the hand from Blair, with moderate policies and who has even been investigated.

I do think Labour needs to do a lot to help educate as many as possible about what the EU really means for them and the treaties that they are being stringed into demanding a referendum for. I can't help but look over at Eire land's recent No and am left perplexed what, within the treaty, they've specifically said no to.

I understand the oil reason for Iraq, the introducing democracy to the middle east policy guise isn't something new and has been around for several decades. We feel we were easily persuaded to go into Iraq, unsure if we're even benefiting from it as much as the USA will. That is a concern as well, putting in effort with no easily visible return. Anyway, I think the dust has settled on the why and everyone is certain where they sit on it, the issue, really, is now soon we get out and finally focus to finish up in Afghanistan. It accelerated the departure of Blair, no doubt, who still, with hindsight, hasn't admitted he was wrong.

Public spending has increased, we've seen changes but there is also a concern that a lot of that extra spending has been wasted in bureaucracy.

Re: UK Politics

Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 4:11 pm
by Duncan
Good point about Europe. I'm fairly sure most of the "No" voters in Eire had no real clue what they were voting against (likewise the "Yes" camp). On that basis I'm not sure what the point was. I don't think anyone is clear where the EU is heading.

English_Druid wrote:Its clearly then all about the hunt, wealthier members of society indulging in a bit of creature slaying.

To some extent I agree. It is not all about pest control. Views on fox hunting really do seem to be all about attitudes. Attitudes to animals (sentimental/cuddly or practical/productive) and the politics of meat (whether you see the killing of animals as necessary at all, and how close you are willing to be to the actuality of an animals death). But if you think humanity has risen above creature-slaying why do we pay the purveyors of meat? Surely this is hypocrisy? I would rather be a rural fox than an urban rat, liable to poisoning or gassing and a consequent slow and painful death in the dark hidden places.

Incidentally the proportions of the wealthy and the rural poor in a hunt tends not to be what you would think from what is presented by the rather raucous anti-hunt brigade - who tend to be fairly wealthy themselves. There are lots of rich, privileged and ill-informed people in towns, many of whom have never encountered a hunt other than as artwork on a biscuit tin.

Re: UK Politics

Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 3:27 pm
by Ranbir
So we got Tory Boy's speech.

I only caught it from responsibility and character. I'll admit he talks some good points with social responsibility, that civil rights has taken precedent over civil duties but I'm still uncertain as to how he's going to do anything. He says he has a plan, he hasn't told me it, though. He mentioned tax cuts but then made it obvious we shouldn't be surprised if he said no.

I think they've got a good chance though. People are disillusioned with Labour, which is looking like the old guard and Cameron projects a young statesman ready to make change.

Re: UK Politics

Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:37 pm
by Duncan
Cameron denies he is inexperienced in times of economic crisis. He's right. Apparently he was in Norman Lamont's team at the time of Black Wednesday.

Cameron claims the Tories are now "the party of the NHS". Does he mean by this all the criticisms of the NHS levelled at it by his friends at the Daily Mail? Badly disorganised, incapable of controlling spending, badly led, bad at decision making, and rife with endemic disease? :lol:

On the radio this morning George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, indicated that there are likely to be tax increases in order to stabilise the economy before they can consider tax cuts. Along with the mealy-mouthing in Cameron's speech on the issue of tax and spend this is surely not going to go down well with your traditional Conservative voter.

I have to agree though Ranbir. People are tired and bored of New Labour. Playing the experience card in this time of crisis (steady hand on tiller and all that) against the inexperience of Cameron is a dangerous game as it could make them look like old has-beens with no radical new ideas (which seems to be quite close to the truth). They might be better challenging the Tories to come up with any ideas at all.